Mannequin on billboard spurs 911 calls about possible jumper

A mannequin sits on top of a Deery Brothers billboard on the southbound side of Highway 61, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 near Mediapolis, Iowa. The mannequin is so life like that it has fooled many drivers into calling 911 believing their is a real person on top of the sign. (AP Photo/The Hawk Eye, Josh Newell)

SPERRY, Iowa (AP) — A mannequin sitting atop a billboard in Des Moines County prompted several 911 calls from people who feared someone was about to take a leap.

Sheriff’s deputies were first dispatched early Monday to check for a possible suicidal person along U.S. Highway 61 near Sperry, according to The Hawk Eye newspaper.

“It was dark, they couldn’t see. They assumed it was someone jumping, but at some point they realized the person was not responding to their commands,” Sheriff Mike Johnstone said. “One of them pulled out their binoculars and realized it was a mannequin.”

While deputies were investigating the matter, more than a dozen calls poured into the county’s dispatch center from concerned passers-by.

That prompted Johnstone to talk with the advertiser, an automobile dealer. The wording beneath the mannequin stated, “I can see Deery Brothers in West Burlington from here.”

After hearing from the sheriff, Brad Deery, who owns the dealership, agreed to remove the mannequin as quickly as possible.

“The sheriff didn’t tell me to take it down, but when I heard about the 911 calls — I don’t want to be tying up a line,” Deery said. “I’m here to sell cars, not get people hurt.”

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Information from: The Hawk Eye, http://www.thehawkeye.com

 

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